Agriculture Has A Leading Role In Energy, Water Efficiency

A short drive from my desk in Fresno will lead me to an almond orchard, a vineyard, a dairy farm or in the middle of a field of strawberries. Agriculture is a $20 billion per year enteprise in the San Joaquin Valley, and proof of that spreads in all directions.

This is the nation's salad bowl, but feeding the masses comes with a price: Farming consumes large amounts of energy and water.

Pumps, refrigeration and other farm-related uses accounted for 13% and 11% of the total electricity consumed in Fresno and Kern counties respectively in 2009, according to the California Energy Commission.

And water is so precious and vital that at least 160 water-related businesses have a presence in the Valley. It is no coincidence that Fresno State University has an internationally known water and energy research facility, and that Clovis just hosted a major water conference.

So, it makes sense that growers would be leaders in water and energy conservation. Farmers in California lead the nation in the use of renewable energy, and Clean Technica writes in this report about a farmer's inexpensive hydro-powered invention that replaces the diesel engine that powered his irrigation system. The story also notes that conservation within the agriculture industry has helped reduce water use in the United States even though the population increased.

The alfalfa farmer, Roger Barton , estimates the device saves him about $3,500 annually. "The consumer sector has a few things to learn from agriculture when it comes to conservation," writes Tina Casey, the Clean Technica reporter.

Clean energy is more than solar arrays and wind farms. Conservation and efficiency are big components, and the San Joaquin Valley, with the involvement of its cutting-edge farmers, could become a showcase of water and energy efficiency and technology.